On the surface it appears San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer is simply wanting to have a softer approach towards immigrants than is different than most Republicans. It is perceived that the GOP has largely given up any hope of winning the votes of immigrants. But that is not the case. In fact, in recent election in Texas, the ardently anti-illegal immigration Republican Lt. Governor Dan Patrick won more than 50% of the Hispanic male voters.
The reason Hispanics are open to considering an option other than the Democrats is simple. Latinos who worked to be in this country or know the struggle earlier generations had getting to this country, are interested in protecting the value of the vote. In addition, instead of emphasizing opportunities, many Democrats seem to emphasize poverty programs and not opportunities to assimilate (by learning the language of money in this country, which is English) or to find jobs. It would not take much for the GOP to compete with the Democrats offering for Hispanic voters.
Today community leaders joined Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and City Council President Georgette Gómez to release the “Welcoming San Diego Strategic Plan on Immigrant & Refugee Integration” – a community-written “blueprint for the San Diego region to welcome immigrants and new citizens as they transition to life in ‘America’s Finest City.'”
“Immigrants from around the globe help define our city. San Diego has long been a destination for people in search of opportunity, refugees looking to rebuild their lives, and new citizens who are proud to call America home,” Mayor Faulconer said. “San Diego’s economy, workforce and future growth are connected to our ability to welcome new Americans into our community. This has been a community-driven process, and I want to thank the civic, business, educational and non-profit organizations for preparing this document and presenting it to the public.”
At the press conference the mayor also announced that his proposal includes the City of San Diego’s first “Immigrant Affairs Manager.” The position will review the plan’s proposals, develop new policies forward and promote the successful integration of immigrants, refugees and new citizens in San Diego.
“I’m proud to stand along with many community leaders and organizations of our region to release a blueprint for Welcoming San Diego Strategic Plan on Immigrant & Refugee Integration,” Council President Gómez said. “It’s important our communities here in San Diego know they don’t stand alone. Our policies and actions must reflect a city that is welcoming. I look forward to working with the Mayor and my colleagues to help implement the plan.”
Immigrants have a significant economic impact on the city. “In 2016 San Diego County immigrant households contributed $7.5 billion in federal taxes, $2.1 billion in state and local taxes, and leveraged $16.3 billion in spending power. Immigrant entrepreneurs generated $1.4 billion in business income for the region. The top five countries of origin for immigrants in San Diego County are Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, China and Iraq,” a report stated.
The committee and partner organizations are working together on the project with the objective of ensuring new Americans can participate in civic life, access public services and resources and to leverage their skills in a meaningful way. With a recognition that immigrants are very important to San Diego’s regional economy, the strategic plan presents ideas and approaches on how area institutions can promote a more interconnected community.
According to a statement “The long-term plan was created with input from hundreds of residents, dozens of organizations and businesses, and a cross-sector steering committee covering five topic areas: economic opportunity, education, inclusive access, civic engagement and safe communities. The committee studied strategic plans, immigrant affairs offices and best practices in peer cities across the nation.”
“Immigrants play an important role in the strength, diversity and resiliency of our local workforce,” said Jerry Sanders, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. “By putting this new plan into action, we can stabilize the workforce, increase employee retention and improve employee performance which will raise our region’s profile and help attract more foreign direct investment, innovation and entrepreneurship. And that benefits all San Diegans.”
“This report is a great example of our city working with affected community members to find ways to better integrate immigrant and refugees so that we can continue to be a region that embraces all people, regardless of where they come from,” said Lilian Serrano, Chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium. “We look forward to the city’s continued commitment to fully implement this plan.”
The Welcoming San Diego project, which began formally with a kickoff summit in February 2018, was supported by the Gateways for Growth grant from New American Economy and Welcoming America and matched by the California Endowment. The statement notes, “The City of San Diego will keep working collaboratively with relevant nonprofits, businesses and organizations throughout the region, and the steering committee will continue to serve in an advisory capacity.”
“Immigrants are and should be seen as a resource. The Welcoming San Diego plan will allow San Diego to tap into the important asset that immigrants and refugees are for the entire region,” said Juan Pablo Sanchez, local business owner and board member of Business for Good.
“This report presents key recommendations that our city can begin to enact. One bullet that should not be overlooked in the report and that the New Americans Museum strives to achieve every day is the question of ‘narrative change’ – of counteracting divisive immigrant rhetoric with the positive and significant contributions of immigrants,” said Linda Caballero Sotelo, Executive Director of the New Americans Museum. “To understand our shared values as Americans, we are no longer in the business of trying to change people’s minds – but their hearts.”